2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Grit continues to take a backseat to skill in today’s NHL, but Bruins ready to throw weight around vs. Leafs

Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

They might not have been the "Big Bad Bruins" of yesteryear, but the last B’s team to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup back in 2011 certainly wasn’t a group to be trifled with.

With bruisers like Milan Lucic and Shawn Thornton in front and players like Adam McQuaid patrolling the blue line, the 2010-11 Bruins were not afraid to crack some heads and drop the gloves when necessary — accruing 1,105 penalty minutes, including an additional 392 over 25 postseason games.

Leap forward eight years, and things have changed quite a bit — both across the league and with a Bruins organization that remains synonymous with hard-nosed, punishing hockey.

Even with Brad Marchand’s 96 penalty minutes in 2018-19 — good for a tie for eighth place among all NHL players — this Bruins club isn’t exactly a group that’s looking to duke it out with every minor transgression out on the ice. As a team, Boston only compiled 783 penalty minutes this season — a far cry from the days in which a guy like Jay Miller would cap off a season with 304 PIM (1987-88).

By this point, however, Bruce Cassidy and Don Sweeney aren’t wasting any breath bemoaning the NHL’s shift to speed and skill over the past decade or so. It’s time to either adapt, or get left in the dust.